Opposing Hate Crime Laws
Here are some arguments against legislation to increase criminal penalties for hate crimes at the federal level--they come from an article I wrote in 2000, (from the last paragraph, I assume it was sometime after the murder of Matthew Shephard):
- The federal judiciary released a statement recently expressing constitutional and practical concerns about hate crime laws. The underlying criminal activity of a hate crime, such as robbery, assault, or murder, traditionally falls under state jurisdiction. The concern is that by passing federal hate crime laws, there will be a mass federalization of crime which should and could be adequately handled at the state level instead of overburdening our already overwhelmed federal courts.
- There is no evidence to suggest that hate crime laws will have a deterrent effect upon hate crimes.
- In many cases, it is very difficult to prove a hateful motivation for the criminal act. The decision to charge a hate crime as such should not be left to law enforcement. The F.B.I., for example, includes gestures and other body language in its hate crime statistics. Prosecutions to date in some cases have been based upon bigoted statements made several years before the act in question.
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